Embarcadero Seawall Resilience

The neighborhoods along the Embarcadero face urgent seismic risks and increasing flood risks from sea level rise. The Port of San Francisco, along with City partners, are tackling both of these risks through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Port Flood Study and the Embarcadero Seawall Program.


Flood and Earthquake Risks to the Embarcadero and the Embarcadero Seawall

While a remarkable engineering feat at the time, the Embarcadero Seawall is now over 100 years old and in desperate need of repair. It was built in earthquake country without today’s seismic standards and atop “young bay mud,” a soft, weak mud that makes for a poor foundation and can amplify earthquake shaking. The Seawall also was built without the knowledge we have today about flood risk from sea level rise.

Sea level rise is a major, and increasing, threat to the city’s safety. Today, the Embarcadero Promenade floods intermittently. As sea levels continue to rise, there will be additional flooding risks to the BART Transbay Tube, Muni light rail, key utility infrastructure, and waterfront businesses and neighborhoods.

Since 1906, the Bay Area has enjoyed a historically quiet period of seismic activity, but the U.S. Geological Survey estimates a 72% chance of a major earthquake happening between now and 2043. A major earthquake could cause most of the Embarcadero Seawall to settle and move outward toward the Bay, likely proving devastating to life, property, and the San Francisco economy.

Impacts of Flood and Seismic Risks

With over $100 billion in assets and annual economic activity along the waterfront supported by the Seawall, it truly is the City’s economic backbone. The Seawall is part of the Embarcadero Historic District and underpins the Embarcadero Promenade, supporting many of the city’s iconic destinations, parks, and local businesses, which attract more than 24 million people each year. The Seawall also supports key utility and transportation infrastructure including BART, Muni, and ferry networks, and serves as a critical emergency response and recovery area. Over 50 key emergency assets depend on the Seawall.


Resilience Efforts Underway

USACE/Port Flood Study

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Port have partnered to study flood risk along San Francisco’s bayside shoreline. The Flood Study is an important opportunity to develop strategies and solutions to strengthen the waterfront’s resilience in a way that protects life safety, as well as the assets, resources, and infrastructure that are most valued by those who live, work, and recreate in the neighborhood. Potential Flood Study Benefits to the Bayview neighborhood include the following: the identification of resilience alternatives for Islais Creek, federal, state, and local investment in flood protection, and future projects with job creation opportunities

  • Focus: Flood Risk, Protecting Assets in the Federal Interest, and Identifying Local Priorities, Potential to Qualify for Federal Construction Funding
  • Implementation: Short, Medium, and Long-Term
  • Lead Agencies: Port of San Francisco and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Learn more about the Flood Study.


Embarcadero Seawall Program

The Port is is leading the Embarcadero Seawall Program, a citywide effort to create a more sustainable and resilient waterfront. The Program is dedicated to robust community and stakeholder engagement, along with fiscal responsibility, accountability, and transparency. Part of the Port’s Waterfront Resilience Program, the Seawall Program will provide the tools to address current and future risks over time. There are three elements to the Program—Strengthen, Adapt and Envision—which allow the Port to respond to risks and conditions over time. Planning for all three elements is occurring now, implementation for each element will depend upon findings, public input, regulatory input, cost/benefit analysis, and availability of funding and financing.

  • Implementation: Short, Medium, and Long-Term
  • Lead Agency: Port of San Francisco

Learn more about the Seawall Program


The Port Commission's Commitment to Waterfront Resilience

In recognition of the Port’s critical role in creating a sustainable waterfront, the Port Commission requires that every project address current and future flooding. This innovative approach includes the following recent and upcoming projects along the Embarcadero:


The neighborhoods along the Embarcadero face urgent seismic risks and increasing flood risks from sea level rise. The Port of San Francisco, along with City partners, are tackling both of these risks through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Port Flood Study and the Embarcadero Seawall Program.


Flood and Earthquake Risks to the Embarcadero and the Embarcadero Seawall

While a remarkable engineering feat at the time, the Embarcadero Seawall is now over 100 years old and in desperate need of repair. It was built in earthquake country without today’s seismic standards and atop “young bay mud,” a soft, weak mud that makes for a poor foundation and can amplify earthquake shaking. The Seawall also was built without the knowledge we have today about flood risk from sea level rise.

Sea level rise is a major, and increasing, threat to the city’s safety. Today, the Embarcadero Promenade floods intermittently. As sea levels continue to rise, there will be additional flooding risks to the BART Transbay Tube, Muni light rail, key utility infrastructure, and waterfront businesses and neighborhoods.

Since 1906, the Bay Area has enjoyed a historically quiet period of seismic activity, but the U.S. Geological Survey estimates a 72% chance of a major earthquake happening between now and 2043. A major earthquake could cause most of the Embarcadero Seawall to settle and move outward toward the Bay, likely proving devastating to life, property, and the San Francisco economy.

Impacts of Flood and Seismic Risks

With over $100 billion in assets and annual economic activity along the waterfront supported by the Seawall, it truly is the City’s economic backbone. The Seawall is part of the Embarcadero Historic District and underpins the Embarcadero Promenade, supporting many of the city’s iconic destinations, parks, and local businesses, which attract more than 24 million people each year. The Seawall also supports key utility and transportation infrastructure including BART, Muni, and ferry networks, and serves as a critical emergency response and recovery area. Over 50 key emergency assets depend on the Seawall.


Resilience Efforts Underway

USACE/Port Flood Study

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Port have partnered to study flood risk along San Francisco’s bayside shoreline. The Flood Study is an important opportunity to develop strategies and solutions to strengthen the waterfront’s resilience in a way that protects life safety, as well as the assets, resources, and infrastructure that are most valued by those who live, work, and recreate in the neighborhood. Potential Flood Study Benefits to the Bayview neighborhood include the following: the identification of resilience alternatives for Islais Creek, federal, state, and local investment in flood protection, and future projects with job creation opportunities

  • Focus: Flood Risk, Protecting Assets in the Federal Interest, and Identifying Local Priorities, Potential to Qualify for Federal Construction Funding
  • Implementation: Short, Medium, and Long-Term
  • Lead Agencies: Port of San Francisco and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Learn more about the Flood Study.


Embarcadero Seawall Program

The Port is is leading the Embarcadero Seawall Program, a citywide effort to create a more sustainable and resilient waterfront. The Program is dedicated to robust community and stakeholder engagement, along with fiscal responsibility, accountability, and transparency. Part of the Port’s Waterfront Resilience Program, the Seawall Program will provide the tools to address current and future risks over time. There are three elements to the Program—Strengthen, Adapt and Envision—which allow the Port to respond to risks and conditions over time. Planning for all three elements is occurring now, implementation for each element will depend upon findings, public input, regulatory input, cost/benefit analysis, and availability of funding and financing.

  • Implementation: Short, Medium, and Long-Term
  • Lead Agency: Port of San Francisco

Learn more about the Seawall Program


The Port Commission's Commitment to Waterfront Resilience

In recognition of the Port’s critical role in creating a sustainable waterfront, the Port Commission requires that every project address current and future flooding. This innovative approach includes the following recent and upcoming projects along the Embarcadero: